Anti-cancer Properties and Relevant Mechanisms of Cordycepin, an Active Ingredient of the Insect Fungus Cordyceps spp.,

동충하초 유래 cordycepin의 항암 활성 기전 최근 연구 동향

Jeong, Jin-Woo;Choi, Yung Hyun

  • Received : 2015.05.08
  • Accepted : 2015.05.18
  • Published : 2015.05.30


Cancers are the largest cause of mortality and morbidity all over the world. Cordycepin, an adenosine analog, is a major functional component of the Cordyceps species, which has been widely used in traditional Oriental medicine. Over the last decade, this compound has been reported to possess many pharmacological properties, such as an ability to enhance immune function, as well as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-cancer effects. Recently, numerous studies have reported interesting properties of cordycepin as a chemopreventive agent as well. There is an accumulating body of experimental evidences suggesting that cordycepin impedes cancer progression by promoting apoptosis, inducing cell cycle arrest, modulating intracellular signaling pathways, and inhibiting invasion and metastasis of cancer cells. In many cancer cell lines, cordycepin inhibits growth and cell cycle progression by inducing arrest of the G2/M phase, resulting from the inhibition of retinoblastoma protein phosphorylation and induction of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors. To induce apoptosis, cordycepin activates the extrinsic and intrinsic pathways, which promotes reactive oxygen species generation and the downstream activation of kinase cascades. Cordycepin also can activate alternative pathways to cell death such autophagy. In addition, cordycepin can inhibit the pro-metastatic processes of cancer cell detachment, migration, and invasion through a variety of mechanisms, including the nuclear factor-kappa B and activated protein-1 signaling pathways. In this review, we summarized the variety of action mechanisms by which cordycepin may mediate chemopreventive effects on cancer and discussed the potential of this natural product as a promising therapeutic inhibitor of cancer development.


Apoptosis;cancer;cell cycle;cordycepin;metastasis


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